JOSEPH CITY, Ariz.
With two state cross-country titles under his belt, Chinle senior Santiago Hardy has established himself as one area’s most gifted runners.
He would like to add three more state titles to his mantle at next month’s Arizona Division III state track meet.
“It’s my senior year so I want to win state,” he said.
As a first-time track athlete, Hardy said he didn’t know what to expect, but so far he’s having a marvelous season. On March 25, he competed very well against some of the Southwest’s best runners at the Nike Chandler Rotary meet.
He hit some personal best records in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter races in that meet, as he surpassed the state’s automatic qualification marks. In the 1,600, he ran a 4:31.38 and place third overall.
“That mile-race was pretty fast,” he said. “I ran against the Division I, II, and IV state champs. We were all in one pack and it was a pretty aggressive race.”
In the 3,200 elite division, he crossed the finish line in 9:34.42, which is the second best time turned in Division III.
Hardy said he’s still making the transition from running a 5K race that has some hills to running around an oval-shaped track.
“Running cross-country was my thing but running flat is something new to me,” he said.
Last Friday, Hardy won both events at the Joseph City Invitational with a time of 4:40.44 in the 1,600 and 9:56.43 in the 3200 under blustery conditions.
With a month into the track season, Chinle coach Dee Denetdeel said he seeing some vast improvements from his pupil each week.
“He’s still trying to figure out speed and tempo, but I am not surprised at all with his progress,” Denetdeel said. “He’s done an exceptional job and just like cross-country he is doing what is asked of him.”
At the Chandler meet late last month, Denetdeel was happy to see Hardy turn in some top marks.
“Santiago did pretty good and he did what I expected him to do,” he said. “I told him to run 72s and not worry about where he finished. As long as he ran 72s we were happy.”
At press time, Hardy has the second best time turned in for the 3,200 and the third fastest in the 1,600 among Division III runners.